Author: Teri Brown
Publisher: Balzer & Bray, 373 Pages (June 11th 2013)
From: the Publisher via Amazon Vine
Add to: Goodreads
Order a copy: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, The Book Depository, Amazon UK
Synopsis: Anna Van Housen has a secret.
A gifted illusionist, Anna assists her mother, the renowned medium Marguerite Van Housen, in her stage show and séances, easily navigating the underground world of magicians, mediums, and mentalists in 1920’s New York. As the illegitimate daughter of Harry Houdini—or so Marguerite claims—sleight of hand illusions have never been a challenge for Anna. The real trick is keeping her own gifts secret from her opportunistic mother. Because while Marguerite’s own powers may be a sham, Anna possesses a true ability to sense people’s feelings and foretell the future.
But as Anna’s powers intensify, she begins to experience frightening visions of her mother in peril, which leads her to explore the powers she’s tried so long to hide. And when a mysterious young man named Cole moves into the flat downstairs, introducing Anna to a secret society that studies people with gifts like hers, she is forced to confront her past and rethink everything she’s ever known. Is her mother truly in danger, or are Anna’s visions merely illusion? And could the great Houdini really be her father, or is it just another of Marguerite’s tricks?
From Teri Brown comes a world bursting with magic, with romance, and the temptations of Jazz Age New York—and the story of a girl about to become the mistress of her own destiny.
Review: 4 Stars - Born of Illusion is the first title in the trilogy with the same name from author Teri Brown. The setting of 1920’s New York provides the perfect backdrop for the wonderful underground of magicians and mentalists of the time.
The main character of this title is Anna Van Housen. She’s a teen who’s a gifted magician. From a young age she’s been told her father is none other than Harry Houdini, which she believes is the reason for her extraordinary talents. However, being just a magician isn’t her only talent… she’s able to communicate with spirits and feeling people’s emotions are two of the ways that make her special.
She’s lived somewhat of a rough, yet extremely interesting life, with her mother who happens to be a medium traveling and entertaining the masses with their stage shows. Anna wants to find a place to settle down, perform her magic and live as close to a normal life as she can, yet keep doing the one thing she loves and that’s to be an illusionist like her father.
1920’s New York is a dangerous time for Anna and her mother as they try to earn extra money with séances held privately in their home. This is dangerous for them and Anna wants to try to save enough money so they can stop before they’re arrested.
Throughout the book we follow along with Anna as she tries to keep her attention grabbing mother happy. Her mother… she seriously frustrated me from beginning to end. Anna is tough and strong but she holds back from giving her mother a piece of her mind out of respect and also fear. The two have more than a rocky relationship that tested Anna from an early age.
The mystery of the story keeps evolving and the clues to who’s out to ruin and even hurt Anna and her mother kept me guessing up until almost the very end. Sometimes the obvious choice isn’t always the correct one. Guessing wrong was a highlight because it proved to me how well written and planned out the book was.
Harry Houdini makes several appearances in the book and I loved these scenes because of how he was portrayed and also because of how Anna was affected each and every time he’s there. There’s one scene that’s a favorite but I won’t tell you… I’ll let you the readers choose for yourself.
There are two possible love interests in the book. Yet with the time it’s not your usual triangle. It’s subtle and I liked it. Brown’s two possible hero’s for Anna were each so different from one another that I can see any girl, even Anna having a hard time choosing. She takes it all pretty much in stride for her age and everything else she has going on around her. Oh and also, because of the time the story is set in its all so refreshing how excited and nervous she is… most girls no matter what year a book is written will show excitement and being nervous, but this is just so different from what we tend to see. It was fascinating and Brown has taken to writing characters and a story in the 1920’s with flying colors.
All in all I had wanted to read this story for some time and when I finally had received a copy and started reading I was whisked away to a different time and place. I was utterly captivated by the year, New York and Browns characters and I didn’t want to come up for air. I highly recommend this title to fans of a wonderfully written YA title. It’s magical and mysterious and shouldn’t be passed by… Happy Reading!